One of the most common New Year’s resolutions that end up on projects lists like the one we all made yesterday must be “get more exercise” or something similar. This is easier said than done. One of the biggest mistakes in fulfilling this is setting out on an overly aggressive goal, like losing 5 kg in one month, planning a violent workout regimen that involves a daunting 5 to 7 days-a-week practice of 3 different sports, or joining a gym you hate.

Actually, one of the most effective ways to meet this resolution is to simply start moving more, walking instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, hiking instead of watching TV on Sunday afternoons, and once you are moving more maybe running for 20 minutes two times a week. Baby steps.

Today, just get out – leave the comfort of your couch and the glare of your phone, tablet or computer – and enjoy a bit of sun and fresh air. Ideas:

1 –  Take your dog for a vigorous walk in a local park, for at least an hour – you both deserve it! Have no dog? Go to the park anyway and if you need something to do take the company of a good book.

2 – Take a 30 minute walk alone, with a family member or a friend and just enjoy being outside.

3 – Get up early and go for a 20 minutes run around the block and take note of 3 things you never noticed about your neighbourhood.

4 – If you really can’t get out today, schedule a hike date with a friend you’ve been missing; it’s the perfect plan for a mindful conversation!

Walk, hike or run

And if you are betting this is coming from a fitness addict, read on.

Not that kind of girl

As many of my friends and family know, I’m not a sports fan. I used to play tennis, I did ballet dancing and I swam as a child but that none of that last long. Some years ago I returned to contemporary dance and last year I tried to learn some hip hop. One thing I discovered was that I really liked to dance and that I could burn a lot of calories doing it. Then life got a bit crazy and I didn’t manage to continue practicing. But my metabolism works pretty well for a 27-year-old who doesn’t go to the gym so I can’t complain.

But then came the time – like it seems to happen to everyone I know – I decided to go to the gym. Well, I didn’t exactly decided to do it, but some people convinced me and said they would go with me… They got me with that not once, not twice but THREE TIMES! I paid for 3 different gyms for 6 months each. Now don’t ask me how many times I actually did some exercise. Just don’t. Does taking a long warm bath after a horrible day at the office count…?

And why was that, you ask me. Firstly, I tried some group workout classes but I wanted to quit after the first 5 minutes because I only managed to get myself to stay at the end of the room and couldn’t see anything. Not to mention the way the instructor looked at me when he got me cheating on an exercise because I couldn’t breathe anymore…! Then I tried Zumba classes – you’re supposed to dance so what could go wrong…? I can hear the sound of the Fitness Goddess laughing at me. I was used to learn choreographies by counting steps and stuff, so when the class started and everyone (mostly women) started dancing the same way without proper directions I could see myself dancing in the mirror resembling a little duck. I tried it a few more times, but then I missed some classes because of my job and when I returned everything was different: a new instructor, new choreographies and the same old Rita trying hard not to make a fool of herself…

But that was not when I gave up. One day I was late for a class so I looked around trying to decide whether I should get myself in the shower and leave or stay and do some exercise. Some beautifully shaped women were lifting weights helped by some fairly muscled men… Nope, not for me. I couldn’t even understand how those machines worked!

Then I thought I could do some running. Yes, I can run as I do it all the time because I’m always late. I found out that it wasn’t really the same thing but that I could spend 20 minutes running and go home after not feeling bad about myself. I eventually quitted again and never thought about any exercise related stuff – which is pretty difficult since everyone’s going crazy about fitness, running, cross fit and healthy food around me…!

Some months ago a friend of mine challenged me for a run and as I was really bored that day I told her I would go. Guess what? I run pretty well!! At first I thought of giving up every 20 seconds, but at the end of the first 10 minutes I started thinking about everything other than the fact that I was running and it led me to an awesome 30 minute run without stopping!

I ran several times after that, even at 7 am some days but that never really gave me the runners’ rush everyone talks about… I kept on scheduling running with my friend because the aftermath was me eating better, sleeping better and not having anxiety every time I would consider exercising. The last time I ran was with an organised by pace group of people and of course I chose the slower group. Ended up last and close to death but I didn’t quit! I was so proud of myself 🙂

These past weeks were crazy and I didn’t manage to run not even once. My friend is training with such determination that I can’t keep up with her anymore. But I can steel remember the rush from the last time I ran so one of my New Year’s resolutions (yes, I do that!) is to run at least once a week. I don’t want to be crazy about it, I don’t want to run a marathon (well, a mini one maybe!), but I surely want to prove myself I can do better if I commit to it! Maybe after today’s challenge you would like to join me on this? 😉

 

Head over to MW’s Cleanse page to check other New Year improvements suggestions and click here to download the calendar illustrated by Elsa Poderosa. No worries if you are late – no one is controlling you, we are here for support. Just start on day one. Feel free to leave any questions and let us know how you are doing with your cleanse in the comments section. And share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #mwcleanse. Happy New Year!